Vegan dashi tastes like the earth and the sea. Made from dried mushrooms and kombu seaweed, it’s a flavorful broth base for any kind of savory dish.
Introduction to Vegan Dashi
Dashi is a savory soup base with a complex umami flavor. It combines a certain earthiness, a taste of the sea, and a hint of smokiness. The uses I’m most familiar with are in miso soup and Japanese curry, but can be used in a number of Japanese (and non-Japanese) dishes.
The vegan version I’m introducing today is made from dried mushrooms (shiitake and others) and dried seaweed (kombu and nori). The most common dashi includes katsuobushi – dried, fermented, smoked tuna flakes. With the rampant overfishing of tuna these days I thought it’d be useful to share a tasty non-fish version.
How to use Vegan Dashi
I developed this recipe because I needed dashi for an upcoming recipe for curry ramen. I find that the dashi makes a fantastic foundation for Japanese curry. The earthiness doesn’t stand out – the most obvious flavors come from the curry – but it completes the flavor profile with a rich roundness. I only notice it when it’s not there.
That said, here are just a few examples of how you can use this broth:
- Make miso soup
- Use it instead of vegetable stock in a pasta sauce or minestrone
- Boost any plant-based ramen broth
- Make a simple clean-out-the-fridge soup with assorted vegetables
- Add a splash of it to any stir-fried dish
How to make Vegan Dashi
The process here is really, really simple. Soak the mushrooms and seaweed in water overnight (up to 48 hours) then strain out the solids. That strained water is your dashi.
I like to make this in a large bowl and place a plate that is just smaller than the bowl to weigh down the mushrooms and keep them submerged.
A few notes before you begin
Since mushroom potency can vary, you should taste a bit of the dashi before using it in a dish. It has the potential to become extremely mushroomy. You may want to cut it with water or homemade vegetable broth to make the mushroomy notes milder.
The minimum ingredients needed for the dashi are kombu seaweed and dried shiitake mushrooms. I included some mixed dried mushrooms to round out the flavor and some nori seaweed to lend a bit more sea flavor. The last two are nice-to-haves but not necessary.
The nori will break apart into many small bits and will require thorough straining.
You can cook and eat the now-rehydrated mushrooms any way you like. They may be a bit chewy and you may want to remove the tough stems, but they still have lots of flavor. It helps to chop them small or cut them into strips.
Check out these other plant-based Japanese recipes
- Ramen-Shop Potato Salad – creamy potatoes with corn, carrot, and a special sauce
- Classic Curry Rice – fragrant and comforting stew with potato and carrot
- Zaru Soba – refreshing chilled buckwheat noodles with dipping sauce)
- Tsukemen – ramen with a thick, rich flavor-bomb dipping sauce
- Hijiki Salad – mild earthy seaweed with veggies, tofu, and avocado
As always, if you try this recipe out, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @gastroplant on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.
- 1 liter water (1 quart)
- 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 piece kombu 3x4 inches or 7x10 centimeters
- 1/2 cup mixed dried mushrooms can substitute an additional shiitake mushroom instead
- 1 sheet sushi nori optional
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Place a plate that is just smaller than the bowl into the bowl to weigh down and submerge the ingredients. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. Leave it overnight, up to 48 hours.
- Remove the plastic wrap and the plate. Use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain the broth thoroughly. It will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.